/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

See a Demonstration of Threat Intelligence

See much more on Threat Intelligence.

Attend a Live Demo of Recorded Future
Dark Web Threat Intelligence With QRadar
Join us for a 30-minute live demo of Recorded Future every week. The next one is Thursday, November 1 at 2:00 PM ET, focusing on dark web threat intelligence with QRadar.

Register now (link above) to hear an experienced analyst cover how to:
Increase analyst “speed to no” by enriching the indicators present in QRadar log activity.
Analyze dark web sources for riskiness and add value to your analyst workflows.
Use Recorded Future Risk Lists and associated context to detect important incidents and prioritize actions.

Pivot to the source of Recorded Future threat intelligence on demand, even if it is a dark web or special access source.   .... "

Watson Compare and Comply for Contracts

Also brought to my attention while looking at 'agreements' and 'contracts' as they integrate with work process flow, value generation and risk.      IBM Watson's look at this kind of problem

Watson Compare and Comply
Contract governance got you down?
AI can help streamline contract workflows to save time and improve accuracy. Learn more in the webinar at the link.

Introducing Watson Compare & Comply ...

Harvard Boosts Legal AI

Been following the potential for AI in Law,  applications like smart contracts, or intelligent legal research.  Or predicting legal outcomes based on context.  And it all starts with the data available.    Consider the implications for lower level legal jobs.  Here is a start just announced, in Technology Review:

" ... Harvard just put more than 6 million court cases online to give legal AI a boost.   After five years of work, nearly 6.5 million US court cases are now available to access for free online.

The news: The Library Innovation Lab at the Harvard Law School Library has completed its Caselaw Access Project, an endeavour to digitize every reported… read more.

Market Research Falling Sort?

Good considerations when thinking abot market research.

Where are market research and analytics falling short?
by Joel Rubinson  in Retailwire:

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from the Joel Rubinson on Marketing Research Consulting blog.

For 10 years or more, big research providers have been forced to accept meager organic growth. Yet, growth is out there.

Companies like Marketing Evolution (media optimization, surveys linked to digital and ad serving data), Disqo (first party data access to online “walled garden” shopper, search and ad serving data) and Ace Metrix (automated and syndicated ratings of video commercials) are addressing emerging gaps. While retail moves to omnichannel, advertising is also transforming to people-based ad serving — personalized and selective — driven by data at scale.

The new media challenge is to find the right customer, whatever website or app they happen to be on, at exactly the right moment.  Buying whole audiences is wasteful; that is why (addressable) digital advertising has now passed linear TV for ad revenues.  Yet, walled gardens and GDPR prevent access to what marketers need to know, so serious gaps and challenges exist.

If you are in the research, insights and analytics business, here is your growth checklist. Do you offer:

Studies at large scale for the cost of small-scale studies of yesteryear;
Linkage to digital ad serving and profiling data at scale;
Technology to harvest the exhaust of digital behaviors at little cost;
Services addressing the need for media optimization in a digital age;
Technology that supports omnichannel retailing and integrated marketing;
Technology that provides a disruptive cost model via survey automation and self-serve access. ... " 

Rubber Duckies for Disaster

Clever idea, disposable drop-in sensors being used to creat networks, understand and communicate ad-hoc in disaster conditions:

IBM is funding a fleet of rubber ducky-inspired gadgets to help disaster response   In Fast Company

The classic rubber ducky has many attributes. It’s cute, tough, and super buoyant. For one team of coders, those kid-friendly, bath-time qualities inspired something more: a disaster response startup that just won $200,000 and the chance for worldwide implementation through IBM’s inaugural Call for Code competition. Project Owl–an acronym that stands for “organization, whereabouts, and logistics”–will air-drop (likely via drone) their plucky “Clusterduck” armada into a disaster area ... 

The devices are small, hexagonal rubber balls that are waterproof, durable, and house mini-Wi-Fi relays, which can work together to create an ad hoc mobile network.

Each individual “ducklink” has a transmission range of about 400 meters. These signals overlap and connect to “Mamaducks,” larger long-range, low-power transmitters that knit all that coverage together. Smartphone and laptop users who join the Project Owl network will receive a pop-up allowing them to report to rescue workers their location, condition, and make clear what exactly they need to survive (that’s about as much data as the limited network will allow).

The data the network collects can then be used to create a dashboard that will allow first responders to better understand the scope of any scenario. This IBM Cloud-based system relies heavily on IBM’s Watson Studio and related Cloud APIs, along with data from the Weather Company, its forecasting service. When combined, the idea is to map and display many aspects of devastation, from where group resources might already be deployed, to ongoing and projected weather patterns. .... " 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bullwhips and Chasing Inventory for Value

One again, the Bullwhip effect.  which we often brought up for its influence in inventory in CPG.  Here new work on studies with data from. Chinese Groceries.

A Counterintuitive Way to Keep Shelves Stocked and Prices Down

New research suggests how to improve supply-chain efficiency and avoid “inventory runs.” Based on the research of Robert L. Bray, Yuliang Yao, Yongrui Duan and Jiazhen Huo

Ask your local liquor store how much of a certain beer they sell, and you will likely get similar answers from week to week.

“They might sell twelve six-packs one week, then eleven, then twelve, then thirteen,” says Robert Bray, an associate professor of operations at Kellogg.

But ask the brewer who makes that beer how much they ship weekly, and the story gets more complicated. It would be normal for a brewer to be responding to orders to ship 500 cases of beer for three weeks straight and then zero the next week, Bray says. “The brewer is going to see really volatile changes.”

This phenomenon, which happens in all kinds of industries, is what experts call the “bullwhip effect.” As demand moves up the supply chain, from consumers to stores to suppliers, it becomes more and more unpredictable—just as a tiny flick of the hand morphs into a wild, forceful smack as it travels down the length of a bullwhip.

But the bullwhip effect is not merely a concern for retail managers and suppliers. When suppliers and distributors are unable to predict demand, the supply chain becomes less efficient.

“And who’s ultimately going to pay for that? The consumer,” says Bray, since those inefficiencies are passed on to shoppers in the form of higher prices and sometimes product shortages.

But what causes the bullwhip effect—and can at least some of the price hikes and shortages be alleviated?

A new study by Bray, along with Lehigh University’s Yuliang Yao and Tongji University’s Yongrui Duan and Jiazhen Huo, tested one theory behind the effect.

Analyzing data from a major Chinese grocery chain, the team found the first-ever hard evidence of what they call “inventory runs.” When retailers see that a supplier is on the verge of running out of an item, they order excessive amounts of that item in hopes of keeping their shelves well stocked—in the same way that customers of a failing bank mount a “bank run” to get their money out before the bank becomes insolvent.  .... " 

Related paper.   See also papers by Robert L. Bray

Talk: Helping Workers Help Themselves

CSIG (Cognitive Systems Institute Group) Talk — Nov 1, 2018 - 10:30-11am US Eastern

Talk Title: Helping Workers Help Themselves: Thinking in 4Tfor Al Applications

Speaker: Professor Terri Griffith , Santa Clara University

Abstract: We have excellent advice on how to reinvent jobs and apply automation within company boundaries, and even how to think about reinventing our personal work and careers given advances in automation. An added aspect to this is how we coach ourselves to think about the optimization of technology and practice throughout all aspects of our lives and work.

We see in 3D. Can we Think in 4T? The 4Ts:

Target: project and/or task goal
Talent: people are the glue holding pieces together
Technology: everything from basic tools (even furniture!) to hard automation, robots, and machine learning
Technique: the processes pulling together the work of the talent and technology

Kids are growing up with technology, but perhaps not with the foundations of how to be thoughtful about the use of that technology. Employees have almost complete access to the  personal technologies at work, but again, perhaps not the foundations of how to think about the applications of technology at work. The self-employed, given less access to formal  professional development, may similarly come to contract work with access to technology, but not frameworks for its most effective use.

This webinar is to help us think about these individual frameworks and how to share them inside and outside our organizations.

Bio: Terri L. Griffith (BA UC Berkeley, PhD Tepper - Carnegie Mellon) is a Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship in Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business. Her research addresses how people come to understand and use technologies in global teams and organizations, most recently focusing on artificial intelligence, crowdsourcing, and freelancing. She has served as a senior editor for Organization Science, an editorial board member Of IEEE Transactions on Engineering and the Journal Of Managerial Issues, and associate editor for MIS Quarterly. Terri is the author of the award-winning general-audience book, The Plugged-ln Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive and has been named a Woman of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. She is proud to be a crowd contributor to Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc.

Zoom meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/7371462221
Zoom Cailin: (415) 762-9988 or (646) 568-7788 Meeting id 7371462221
Zoom International Numbers: https://zoom.us/zoomconference
( Check the website in case the date or time changes: http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/ )
Thu, Nov 1, 10:30am US Eastern https://zoom.us/j/7371462221
More Details Here and slides, recording : http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update

Whats Creepy About AI

Our views and expectations about what to expect from machines, even in a very general sense, are constantly changing.  Experience from media, experiences in work and at home adjust our views.  Getting examples of the value provided, all have influence.   Here a poll looks at consumer thoughts.

AI is Creeping America Out, But It Doesn’t Have To

An Interactions/Harris Poll reveals what people find creepy about AI

FRANKLIN, MA – October 30, 2018 – With every click, download or voice command, AI has another data point to slip into its back pocket – ready and waiting to help inform business decisions, marketing strategies and campaign targeting. To date, companies have been experimenting with how to use this data to dazzle customers. From alerting people when their milk is low, to pre-selecting their online shopping carts, to helping them book a vacation, brands have cast the deciding vote on how and when consumer data should be used. But without insight from customers, they’ve been operating in the dark—blindly walking the line between helpful and creepy.

That’s why Intelligent Virtual Assistant leader Interactions commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct an online survey of 2,000+ American adults in August to figure out exactly where the “creepy” line is, and when AI crosses it. In the process, we identified consumer comfort level with AI utilizing personal information, and what tips the scale from helpful to creepy. Here are the top consumer concerns that crossed the creepy line:  ... '

Voice Tools vs Chatbots

Still need more work in understanding and relating to changing context in human machine interaction.

In Chiefmarketer:  by Julia Stead

 A few years ago, industry experts predicted that text-based chatbots were the next big thing in automated sales and service. While they correctly envisioned consumers often utilizing the feature, they could not foresee the rapid advancement in AI-powered voice tools, let alone how quickly folks would come to love them. Marketers in categories like automotive, insurance and finance — which require high-stakes buying decisions — cannot afford to ignore the shift in consumer demand for smart, voice assistants.

Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have become a regular part of life with 65 percent of 25-to-49-year-olds already speaking to them via a smart device at least once per day. At the same time, 60 percent of consumers say chatbots are not more convenient to use than talking with a person.

The cross-channel voice era is upon us, as 54 percent of people already prefer customer service that strikes a balance between AI and human interaction. Voice tools, or “skills” in Amazon Alexa’s vernacular, will soon work in concert with one-to-one conversations between customers and agents, and the days of tapping at a keyboard to schedule a test drive, get an insurance quote or apply for a credit card will be all but over.

Alexa, Let’s Set Up a Test Drive

Researching cars is a superb use case for an increasingly voice-activated future. A virtual assistant is a convenient way to learn more about makes and models while removing the pressure and trepidation of interacting with an overly eager salesperson on the lot.  ... " ... '

Wal-Mart Optimizes Pallets, Job Implication Unclear

I would point out that this is not a new thing,  we did exactly this long ago with algorithms to optimize pallets and other component aspects  of the supply chain.   Good idea then and now.   Hardly a AI idea.   The article mentions jobs but that was never considered then.

In Supplychain Digest.

...  40% is the projected increase in throughput that Walmart expected to gain from a planned new highly automated grocery distribution center it is building in Shafter, CA versus its current DC design. The retailer's announcement said this will be "Walmart's first high-tech distribution center for fresh and frozen groceries. Set to open in Fall 2020, the new DC will support 200 stores. While details are scarce, this will involve automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and automated palletization both in terms of handling and the smarts to build ideal pallets. "Every product is measured and documented so that we know how to handle it," said Shayne Wahlmeier, one of the Walmart engineers on the project. "A computer algorithm shows all the cases ordered for a given store and determines how to palletize them to maximize the space on a pallet or trailer. It also takes into account density – what's crushable, what's not." Walmart is also touting the fact that the automated DC – which will brings goods to pickers – will make the job for DC workers better – though the impact on jobs is not clear.  ... "

Small Brands and CPG

Is this ultimately an innovation and delivery problem?

Why haven’t CPG giants figured out what makes small brands so popular?   by Matthew Stern in Retailwire  with further expert commentary.

Titans of the consumer packaged goods industry may be in trouble as they continue to face significant competition from smaller counterparts. In fact, small CPGs are now leading the industry’s growth if not outright market share.

Since 2013, $17 billion in sales have shifted from major CPG players to small ones, according to Forbes. And the fastest growing CPG segment this year was “extra small” brands, defined as making less than $100 million per year, with growth of 4.9 percent. Large players, defined as making more than $5.5 billion per year, lagged behind with only 0.6 percent growth. There is a confluence of factors responsible for the spike in small CPG success and the waning market domination of conglomerates that once had only each other to worry about.

Direct-to-consumer e-commerce has allowed customers to discover and begin buying from brands they’re interested in without needing to visit grocers where big name brands may be more prominent. And with some direct-to-consumer brands, like “active” drink company Dirty Lemon Beverages, offering direct-to-consumer subscription services, the convenience creates an element of brand lock-in that may keep potential customers from trying competitors in the category.  .... "

Company CoWorking Spaces

Sharing experiences, learning.

Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces    Gabor Nagy   Greg Lindsay in HBR

Nestled in the Silicon Sentier district of Paris, the Villa Bonne Nouvelle (“House of Good News”), or VBN, initially appears to be another new coworking space. But what sets it apart is that only half of its 60 occupants are freelancers. The remainder work for Orange (née French Telecom), which launched VBN in 2014 to teach its programmers and engineers how to work with and learn from people outside of the company.

The experiment succeeded: Teams temporarily stationed there worked better and faster than colleagues elsewhere, and they reported greater satisfaction and engagement (along with bouts of depression upon returning to the office). Even the HR executives managing the space were surprised by their bonhomie. More villas are now in the works.

Orange describes its approach as “corpoworking,” a cousin to coworking. It’s not alone in trying to jump on the trend of shared workspaces, of which there are now around 19,000 worldwide. Dozens of companies, ranging from telcos (Sprint, AT&T), to tech giants (SAP, IBM), to automakers and insurance companies (MINI, State Farm) have launched similar experiments. The real revolution in coworking may have less to do with freelancers or startups than with employees of large companies working beyond the boundaries of their organizations. .... "

Monday, October 29, 2018

CACM Special Region Edition on China

Just reading this special section in the CACM on China. .  Very good, 50 page+ survey of advanced IT and related tech in many domains from and in China.  AI, Consumers, Tech, Retail, Fintech, Automotive, Games and more.  You may have to sign up for some portions of this report.

Welcome to the China Region Special Section
By Wenguang Chen, Xiang-Yang Li 

Communications of the ACM, November 2018, Vol. 61 No. 11, Page 38  10.1145/3239532

Wenguang Chen and Xiang-Yang Li, China Regional Special Section Co-Organizers

China's unique language, culture, governance practices, and research funding systems have had great impact on its Internet industry and technology development. For example, people in China seem less sensitive about privacy, which may be an important factor in the fast acceptance of mobile payment systems; combining that with the huge population of China could motivate many exciting technology innovations.

Some have speculated the Chinese government's strict supervision of Internet content and exclusion of some multinational competitors are important factors in the development of China's Internet industry, but it is difficult to assess the validity of such conjecture. In some non-content-based areas, such as e-commerce, the sharing economy, and Internet travel agencies, Chinese Internet companies have matched, and even surpassed, their international competitors.

For this special section, we invited contributors from a wide range of academic and industry communities spanning the Chinese mainland, Macau, and Hong Kong. We brainstormed article topics in a workshop in Beijing in March 2018. The response was terrific, and the resulting collection of articles, while far from comprehensive, offers an excellent snapshot of the most exciting computing trends and activities in the China region.

We are pleased to present the China Region special section, which includes  .... " 

Table of contents.

Wal-Mart Also Testing Cashier-less Model

Another indication that cashier-less models that use image recognition of product are on their way.  Recall we tested this idea in the early 90s in our labs.  Reported on it here.

Walmart-owned Sam’s Club is opening a cashier-less store in Texas in TheVerge

Just like Amazon’s automated Amazon Go stores
By Chaim Gartenberg  @cgartenberg  .... 

Business Model vs Technology

Always interesting Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes.  A number of useful research pieces are linked  to:

Irving Wladawsky-Berger Blog:  A collection of observations, news and resources on the changing nature of innovation, technology, leadership, and other subjects.

« The Economic Value of Artificial Intelligence | Main

It's All About the Business Model, - Not the Technology

In Reinvent Your Business Model, his recently published book, Mark Johnson argues that digital transformation and business model innovation are not the same thing.  New technology alone, - no matter how transformative, - is not enough to propel a business into the future.  The business model wrapped around the technology is the key to its success or failure.  Johnson is Senior Partner in Innosight, the strategy consulting firm he cofounded with Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in 2000.  He’s been conducting research on business model innovation for over a decade, and in 2010 published Seizing the White Space.

Business model innovation has long been the domain of disruptive startups looking to compete against established companies by changing the rules of the game, - and, hopefully, creating new markets and reshaping entire industries.  But, it’s no longer enough for established companies to just roll out improved products and services based on their once-reliable business models.

“Building a great business and operating it well no longer guarantees you’ll be around in a hundred years, or even twenty,” notes Johnson.  “In 1965, the average length of time a company remained on the S&P 500 was thirty-three years.  By 1990, it had dropped to twenty years; in 2012, it was just eighteen.  Based on the 2017 churn rate, it is forecast that half of the S&P 500 will be replaced over the next ten years.”  .... '

Amazon Go Rival in Japan

The idea continues to expand, here example in Japan.  Video.

Amazon Go Has a Real Rival in Japan

TicToc via Bloomberg.

No humans, no cash, no problem. Amazon Go's domination of unmanned, AI-controlled stores have competition from Japanese company Signpost. @rumireports tries out a store in Tokyo #tictocnews ....."

Business Value of Design

Useful piece and Podcast by McKinsey, link to business value.

The business value of design
By Benedict Sheppard, Hugo Sarrazin, Garen Kouyoumjian, and Fabricio Dore in McKinsey

How do the best design performers increase their revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry counterparts?

We all know examples of bad product and service design. The USB plug (always lucky on the third try). The experience of rushing to make your connecting flight at many airports. The exhaust port on the Death Star in Star Wars.

The business value of design
We also all know iconic designs, such as the Swiss Army Knife, the humble Google home page, or the Disneyland visitor experience. All of these are constant reminders of the way strong design can be at the heart of both disruptive and sustained commercial success in physical, service, and digital settings.

Despite the obvious commercial benefits of designing great products and services, consistently realizing this goal is notoriously hard—and getting harder. Only the very best designs now stand out from the crowd, given the rapid rise in consumer expectations driven by the likes of Amazon; instant access to global information and reviews; and the blurring of lines between hardware, software, and services. Companies need stronger design capabilities than ever before.  .... " 

Parking a Car with 12 Neurons

A remarkable simplification, with images.  Note the pointer to biological neural nets.

 Parking a Car With Only 12 Neurons 
Technische Universitat Wien
Florian Aigner in TU Wien, MIT

Researchers at TU Wein in Vienna, Austria collaborated with colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the development of a new approach for programming neural networks, which models the time evolution of nerve signals in a completely different way. The approach, inspired by the roundworm C. elegans, simulated neural circuits from the worm's nervous system, then adapted the model with machine learning algorithms, enabling it to solve challenging tasks with a small number of simulated nerve cells. Said TU Wein’s Ramin Hasani, “This is an architecture that can capture sequences, because it makes neurons remember what happened previously.” .... '

Digitization and Value Chain

Like the idea of a 'value' chain, was reminded of it by this article:

Shaking up the value chain

Data and digitization are creating a growing array of value-creation choices in industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, mining, and energy.

During the 1980s, McKinsey’s Fred Gluck and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter began writing about the interrelated activities through which companies create value for their customers. Executives have always had choices about how to perform the activities in this “business system” (Gluck’s words) or “value chain” (Porter’s). In the digital age, as information disrupts the nature of value creation in many industries, the range of choices available to senior business leaders has increased. For example, digital platforms in the pharmaceutical industry now make it possible to aggregate massive amounts of data on diseases—potentially accelerating the discovery and design of new drugs and challenging the industry’s legacy processes. In energy production and mining, although companies have long outsourced some functions in efforts to drive down costs, digital requires a new approach. Using data, suppliers can offer incumbents an expanded range of capabilities and productivity gains—alluring possibilities that are accompanied by the risk that sharing too much data could shut off areas of future growth. This type of flux in value chains will only intensify across industries, forcing leaders to grapple with existential questions about core competitive strengths in an environment where destabilizing technologies will be the norm. ... "

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Knowledge Base Construction

Ultimate its what AI is about. Developing and storing knowledge, updating it and applying it to skills in context.   We worked with Stanford on this, but it had not yet been developed enough.   Are we ready for its application?  Especially in an era where machine learning is key.   Still don't see this well enough implemented where knowledge can be readily shared and integrated with context, common sense or otherwise.

Research for Practice

Knowledge Base Construction in the Machine-learning Era
Three critical design points: Joint-learning, weak supervision, and new representations  By Alex Ratner and Chris Ré

This installment of Research for Practice features a curated selection from Alex Ratner and Chris Ré, who provide an overview of recent developments in Knowledge Base Construction (KBC). While knowledge bases have a long history dating to the expert systems of the 1970s, recent advances in machine learning have led to a knowledge base renaissance, with knowledge bases now powering major product functionality including Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Wolfram Alpha. Ratner and Ré's selections highlight key considerations in the modern KBC process, from interfaces that extract knowledge from domain experts to algorithms and representations that transfer knowledge across tasks. Please enjoy! —Peter Bailis

More information is accessible today than at any other time in human history. From a software perspective, however, the vast majority of this data is unusable, as it is locked away in unstructured formats such as text, PDFs, web pages, images, and other hard-to-parse formats. The goal of KBC (knowledge base construction) is to extract structured information automatically from this "dark data," so that it can be used in downstream applications for search, question-answering, link prediction, visualization, modeling and much more. Today, KBs (knowledge bases) are the central components of systems that help fight human trafficking,18 accelerate biomedical discovery,9 and, increasingly, power web-search and question-answering technologies.4  .... " 

Toyota and Ad Buys using Blockchain

Novel application is would seem.

Toyota says it Gets a Boost when Applying Blockchain to Digital Ad Buys
By George P. Slefo. Published on October 16, 2018.

Toyota is accelerating its plans to use blockchain technology to root out fraud when buying digital ads.

The automaker recently piloted a campaign after inking a deal with blockchain analytics outfit Lucidity, with hopes of making sure its ad dollars weren't going to waste. The end result was a 21 percent uptick in visits to Toyota's website when compared to similar ad buys it made without Lucidity tech, says Nancy Inouye, media director at Toyota Motor North America. Now the company plans to extend its deal with Lucidity beyond the originally planned three-week test.  .... "

Evolution of Supermarket Retail

Very good historical look at the the experience of retail supermarkets.  And I love to see what history teaches us.  Is the Amazon Go experience inevitable?

Amazon Go is the inevitable evolution of supermarket retail

Why the "good old days" of supermarkets were actually bad.

Andrew Tarantola, @terrortola in Engadget

Discovering Skills in Virtual Assistants

Well done, analytical paper on the topic. Excerpt below and link to the full paper.  Recommended for people involved in using, designing and delivering skills for virtual assistants.

In the Communications of the ACM, November 2018 Vol 61 No. 11,   p 106-113


Skill recommendations must be provided when users need them most, without being obtrusive or distracting.    By Ryen W. White,  Microsoft Research

Skill Discovery in Virtual Assistants

VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS LIKE Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri employ conversational experiences and language-understanding technologies to help users accomplish a range of tasks, from reminder creation to home automation. Voice is the primary means of engagement, and voice-activated assistants are growing in popularity; estimates as of June 2017 put the number of monthly active users of voice-based assistant devices in the U.S. at 36 million.a  Many are “headless” devices that lack displays. Smart speakers (such as Amazon Echo and Google Home) are among the most popular devices in this category.

Speakers are tethered to one location, but there are other settings where voice-activated assistants can be helpful, including automobiles (such as for suggesting  (such as for providing private notifications and suggestions18). Virtual assistant capabilities are commonly called “skills.” Skill functionality ranges from basic (such as timers, jokes, and reminders) to more advanced (such as music playback, calendar management, and home automation). 

Assistant skillsets include both first-party skills and third-party skills. First-party skills comprise the aforementioned basic skill functionality found in many assistants, as well as skills that leverage assistant providers’ strengths in such areas as electronic commerce (Amazon Alexa), productivity (Microsoft Cortana), and search (Google Assistant). All major assistants also provide development kits that empower third-party developers to create their own skills for inclusion. Skills can be invoked independently, linked together within a single voice command to invoke a preprogrammed routine, or in a sequence of related skills arranged as required for complex task completion. Despite the significant value virtual assistants can offer, discovery of their capabilities remains   a challenge  ... "

Saturday, October 27, 2018

HBO builds Alexa Skills

HBO is having Alexa skills built for some of their properties.  Some just simple database indexes, which does not impress me very much, but others are getting much more creative.     Whats next?    Could such a method be a way to integrate game-style interactions with video properties?   Voice only or likely a combination with visual?

HBO's first Amazon Alexa Skill for Kids is the Next Step in a long-term plan

Sesame Workshop's 'Esme & Roy' builds on the lessons learned from 'Westworld: The Maze'   By I-Hsien Sherwood  in Adage

This summer, HBO’s first Amazon Alexa skill took users on a voice-only journey through “Westworld,” the hit sci-fi/western show. The premium cable channel’s second venture into artificial intelligence is for a decidedly less attentive (though no less discerning) audience--preschoolers.

The new “Esme & Roy” voice skill features characters from the animated children’s show, which debuted on HBO in August. It is produced by Sesame Workshop, the creator of “Sesame Street.” (That acclaimed kids’ program has aired on HBO since 2016.) Aimed at children three and up, the skill mirrors the show, allowing kids to pick different adventures for Esme, an accomplished “monster-sitter,” and her friend Roy, a giant yellow monster with a silly streak .... "

Using Google Lens on IOS

Been exploring Google Lens on an Iphone via images placed in Google Photos and Google Assistant.  Google lens is a means of interpreting images.  For example it can interpret the text on a sign and show it to you.  More complexly it can take an image of a tree or plant leaf and it will tell you what it is.  It will identify a location.  If it identifies a commercial thing, it will link you to purchase.   Or a person based on your previous ID of a person in a picture.   Text Translation from signs.  Store names.  And more.   Uses AI based image recognition.   On Pixel phones it can do the recognition directly from the camera view.   Very cool thing, reminding me of Google Goggles from long ago.  I like much where this is going.

That being said, it says it is 'still learning' and does not always get the correct answer.   For example I showed it a mulberry leaf in a clear flat image, a very distinctive leaf form, and it identified it as one of four different images, including a maple leaf, which is very different.   So you can't necessarily rely on the result.  As a naturalist, will try it with other plant images.    Also having been involved with petro geology, identifying rock samples?

Learn and do more with Lens in Google Images
By Assaf Broitman    Product Manager, Google Images

On Google’s 20th anniversary last month, we announced updates to make Google Images a more useful place to explore the web through images. One of the ways we’re doing this is by bringing Lens to Google Images. We launched Lens to help you do more with what you see. People already love using it in their camera and on their photos–to find items in an outfit they like, learn more about landmarks, and identify that cute dog in the park. Lens is a natural fit for Google Images.  ... "

Being Too Collaborative

Interesting thought, yes in the sense that too much of any behavior can.

When being too collaborative can hurt your career

Being a team player is a sought-after skill for nearly every position, but placing too much emphasis on gaining consensus can negatively affect your career growth.

Being a good team player is an essential skill in our modern workplace. But while the ability to work well with others and collaborate on projects is a sought-after ability in nearly every position, placing too much emphasis on being a good team player can negatively affect your career growth.

Being hyper-focused on gaining consensus, or being too concerned with the opinions of others can impede your ability to make decisions, speak up, and gain recognition for your individual skills and strengths.

“When we are too subordinate to others’ opinions, too focused on decision consensus, too silent about our own point of view, too agreeable to take things on when we don’t have bandwidth, we build a brand of underconfident, subservient, low-impact non-leaders, and hamper our growth and career progression,” says leadership coach Shefali Raina. ..... "

Friday, October 26, 2018

Net connected Trolley (Shopping Cart)

Implies getting biometric data to understand the consumer.   Privacy an issue, though related methods have been used already.  How will consumers react to the 'activation' of a seemingly inert device?

Walmart planning 'net-connected trolley'  in BBC Technology

US retail giant Walmart has applied for a patent for a smart shopping trolley that can track a shopper's heart rate, temperature, grip and walking speed.

Such a system would provide valuable information about how shoppers respond to different stores, it said.

The patent, submitted in February, would see trolleys fitted with sensors which in turn send data over the internet to Walmart's servers.

Walmart said it would not collect any personally identifiable data.

The patent, published in August, is titled "System and Method for a Biometric Feedback Cart Handle". .... " 

Polluting Our Sky View

The broad idea has been discussed before.  There is also the term 'light pollution', that we should consider.   Not a fan of separating us from a view of the universe.   The Article says it will not, but I am very skeptical.

China to launch ‘artificial moon’ into SPACE to replace STREET LIGHTS
CHINA is set to launch an artificial moon into space in 2020 with the aim to replace street lights, as the communist country’s space programme becomes increasingly more powerful. ... 
By  Alice Scarsi

Macy's Pushes Popup Stores, Works with Facebook

Macy's is also partnering with Facebook, to produce a multiple channel interaction.  With expert commentary.

Macy’s expands in-store pop-up concept with Facebook’s help    by George Anderson in Retailwire

There were high hopes for “The Market @ Macy’s” when the retailer launched its turnkey in-store pop-up concept earlier this year. Now, the department store retailer is adding the concept to new stores and looking to take the buzz surrounding The Market to a new social level via a partnership with Facebook.

Yesterday, Macy’s announced that it was expanding the Market to two more of its locations, one at the Lenox Mall in Atlanta and the other at Century City in Los Angeles, to bring its total to 12 across the country. The chain has added the concept to its most heavily trafficked stores, including its Herald Square flagship in New York. The new pop-up areas will also be larger — nearly double the size of the first Market spaces, CNBC reports. .... " 

Applying AI for Impact

Just examining this, appears to be a good look at possibilities:
In McKinsey:

Crossing the frontier: How to apply AI for impact

Cut through the noise around artificial intelligence with this collection of our latest thinking on where and how best to use AI in your organization.  ... "

What can fMRI Do?

Useful for an understanding of the challenges of reading minds:

A neuroscientist explains the limits and possibilities of using technology to read our thoughts
Brain activity doesn’t tell us what someone is experiencing
By Angela Chen@chengela

” Poldrack is a neuroscientist at Stanford University and the author of The New Mind Readers: What Neuroimaging Can and Cannot Reveal about Our Thoughts (out now from Princeton University Press). His research focuses on what we can learn from brain imagining techniques such as fMRI, which measures blood activity in the brain as a proxy for brain activity. And one of the clearest conclusions, he writes, is that activity in a particular brain region doesn’t actually tell us what the person is experiencing.

The Verge spoke to Poldrack about the limits and possibilities of fMRI, the fallacies that people commit in interpreting its results, and the limits of its widespread use. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.  .... " 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Visualizing Google's Supply Chain

An interesting view of how Google manages a sustainable supply chain for the Pixel phone, and demonstrates its design with immersive VR.   Like the idea of designing,  testing and understanding the risks in a supply chain using immersive visual methods.  This appears to not include numerical simulations or analytics, which I think would improve it.

Reimagining the Google supply chain
 " ... See the supply chain in action with immersive VR
If you want to learn more about where materials and products come from and the people and places that help create the devices we use in our daily lives, take a look at two new virtual reality projects. ... "

China as Retail Laboratory

China Is the World's Retail Laboratory  in Bloomberg BusinessWeek
By Rachel Chang

Chinese consumers eager for novelty are encouraging Alibaba, Tencent Holdings, and an array of startups to launch and pilot new technologies. One example is Smile to Pay from Alibaba's mobile payment branch, which employs facial-recognition systems and biometric data so diners at restaurants in the KPRO chain can order meals faster. Another Alibaba-powered technology lets diners at another restaurant chain order food on their smartphones or via a screen at the establishment's entrance, then pick up their meals from lockers connected to the kitchen. Meanwhile, the BingoBox startup has deployed a network of 300 automated convenience stores with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag-outfitted merchandise to expedite checkout; shoppers gain access by scanning a quick response code displayed on the front of each store with the WeChat app. In March, the city of Guangzhou implemented a service allowing car shoppers to schedule test drives online, then pick up vehicles at an Alibaba-built auto vending machine.  ... " 

Follow Locations on Google Maps

Interesting idea, follow locations.  I add: Perhaps start thinking of clusters of locations as well?  Subcribe to locations and clusters?  Reminders that you have not been there in some time?

Google Maps now lets you ‘follow’ your go-to locations
Follow your favorite store like you follow friends on Twitter

By Chaim Gartenberg   @cgartenberg on the Verge

Google Maps for Android is getting a new feature today: the option to follow locations and businesses like you would an account on a social network, letting you stay in the loop on any news, events, or upcoming offers that are featured there.

Those updates will show up in the recently added “For You” tab that Google already uses as a personalized feed of local recommendations and restaurants. Allowing users to personalize that section a bit more by adding their favorite stores seems like a natural extension of the functionality, especially as Google seems to be set on adding more social features to Maps. .... " 

AI Community Day Presentations

Recording of the October 11 meetings.   Note you do have to sign up to see these, and as I understand it they will only be available for about 90 days.   Good resource provided via the Cognitive Systems Institute:

 ....  “Listen to more AI Community Day” More Info: https://www.ibmai-platform.bemyapp.com/#/conferences   (please sign-up first to see recordings) IBM, Figure Eight, Stack Overflow, Udacity, etc ... "

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

3D Print Your Own Razor Handles

Nice idea that sounds fun, now engaging will it be?   How will the ads bring up this concept? Personalization certainly.  I have worked with Gillette.

Gillette Lets Consumers Make 3D-Printed Razor Handles  By CGT Staff  

Procter & Gamble's Gillette has introduced Razor Maker, an online assortment of products whose handles can be customized in a choice of 48 three-dimensional designs and seven colors.

The handles will be produced at Gillette’s Boston facility using stereolithography, a technology developed by 3D printing giant Formlabs, to hold either Mach3 or Fusion5 ProGlide cartridges. They will be sold via a dedicated razor-maker.com website and manufactured in limited quantities. Orders will be shipped within two to three weeks.

"Historically, 3D printing has been involved in the development or manufacturing for products people interact with every day. But consumers have had little interaction with 3D printing itself," said David Lakatos, chief product officer at Formlabs. “These new custom razor handles are the next step toward changing that dynamic.”

“Gillette is in the business of helping men look, feel and be their best,” said Pankaj Bhalla, director of Gillette & Venus North America. “That means giving them grooming options that not only meet their shaving needs, but also match their lifestyle, look and budget.

Prices start at $19 for a partially 3D-printed handle with black, rubberized grip; a fully printed handle is $25. Chrome handles are $39 and $45, respectively. Text can also be added to the design. Each handle comes with one razor cartridge. Customers can order four additional cartridges for $15. Color choices are black, white, red, blue, green, grey and chrome.   ....  " 

Google Plus Channels Ending

For a while I was using Google+ as a semi automated channel for clients in some domain areas.    Was just asked where that service has gone.   Google+ was sun-setted by Google on October 8.  So I have also permanently closed my channel with Google+.  Contact me if you want to do this in other ways, glad to talk it.

Amazon Alexa Polly Voices for Context

Useful, will be experimenting with.   Perhaps to use alternative voices for emphasis, effect or indicating alternative contexts?   I like any idea that can 'widen' the voice channel.  From the Dev blog.

 Amazon Polly Voices in Alexa Skills Now Generally Available

  We’re excited to announce the general availability of Amazon Polly voices in the Alexa Skills Kit. Now you can use 27 different Amazon Polly voices to make your Alexa skills more engaging for customers. You can use the voices in your skills for free in all locales supported by Alexa.

What Is Amazon Polly?
Amazon Polly is a service that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing you to create applications that talk and build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products. Amazon Polly uses advanced deep learning technologies to synthesize speech that sounds like a human voice. Visit the Amazon Polly product page for more information.

Make Your Skill Experience More Dynamic and Engaging with Amazon Polly Voices
Using Amazon Polly, you can choose a different voice for any utterance by using the Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) and specifying an Amazon Polly voice using the “voice name” tag and the “lang” tag (if you need a language other than the default language for the skill). You can even use an Amazon Polly voice for every utterance in your skill. Developers are already taking advantage of Amazon Polly to:  ....  "

Deep Learning Foundation

Of interest, see a talk being given on 10/25/2018 on the DLF,  the talk and slides will be posted there afterwards.

LF Deep Learning

Open Source Innovation in Artificial Intelligence

LF Deep Learning Foundation is a project of The Linux Foundation that supports open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning. LF Deep Learning was created to support numerous technical projects within this important space. ... 

With LF Deep Learning, members are working to create a neutral space for harmonization and acceleration of separate technical projects focused on AI, ML, and DL technologies. ....

We are excited to offer a deep learning foundation that can drive long-term strategy and support for a host of projects in the AI, machine learning, and deep learning ecosystems. With LF Deep Learning, we are launching the Acumos AI Project, a comprehensive platform for AI model discovery, development, and sharing. LF Deep Learning enables the open source community to support entire ecosystems of projects in these spaces, and we invite the open source community to join us in this effort.” .... ' 

Talk on the Deep Learning Foundation

Date and Time: October 25, 2018 - 10:30am US Eastern
Talk Title: The LF Deep Learning Foundation

Speaker: Scott Nicholas, Linux Foundation

Talk Description: 
Scott will review the mission and scope of the LF Deep Learning Foundation, the umbrella project of The Linux Foundation formed to support open source AI, machine learning and deep learning projects. Scott will review LF DL's achievements to date, how LF DL supports its projects, the projects currently supported and how projects can join LF DL.

Scott Nicholas is Sr. Director of Strategic Programs for the Linux Foundation.  He helps form and launch open source projects, supports projects once launched, and contributes to The Linux Foundation’s legal programs.  He has set up numerous projects across the technology stack. Since March 2018, Scott has led The Linux Foundation's support of the LF Deep Learning Foundation, an umbrella project supporting open source AI, ML and deep learning projects.
He received his B.A. in Russian and History from Tufts University and his law degree from Stanford Law School. Scott’s professional experience spans both the legal and financial aspects of technology, having worked as both a corporate attorney and as an investment analyst covering the technology sector.  Scott joined The Linux Foundation in 2015.

Date and Time : October 25 2018 - 10:30am US Eastern
Zoom meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/7371462221
Zoom Callin: (415) 762-9988 or (646) 568-7788 Meeting id 7371462221
Zoom International Numbers: https://zoom.us/zoomconference
(Check the website in case the date or time changes: http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/   < Talk and Slides posted here after talk

Please retweet  -
Join LinkedIn Group - https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6729452

Pricing and Data Science

More regarding pricing.  Large amount of data included is interesting. 

Using Data Science to Avoid Global Pricing Chaos    By Andrea Marron
What every industry can learn from luxury fashion.

 Luxury Fashion Global Pricing Business Omniretail

Technology and e-commerce have revolutionized the way consumers buy everyday products. While this often benefits consumers, many industries face challenges that never existed before. Take “showrooming,” for example. A customer wants to buy something — a piece of furniture, perhaps. It looks good online, but he wants to try it out first. So, the customer finds a nearby store that carries the item, looks at it in person, and decides he’d like to purchase it. Then he picks up his phone, and in a few clicks, finds that same model available at a cheaper price from an e-commerce site in another country, even with shipping costs.

This problem pervades many industries, and while organizations have learned to watch out for showrooming and other new obstacles, many still struggle with substantial price variations across markets.

One powerful example of this problem is the luxury and contemporary fashion industry, in which pricing variations create operational problems for retailers and e-commerce sites in some markets.

My startup, Ragtrades, used big data to explore just how big a problem this is. We aggregated figures from 20 major luxury and contemporary fashion brands and 50 retailers. We assessed prices across 12 countries, using local versions of each website and each country’s currency. This analysis included more than 300,000 data points, using our proprietary algorithms to identify exact matches. Our analysis found that prices in Russia and East Asia are the most misaligned, leaving the same item available at a wide range of prices. Western Europe, meanwhile, had the most aligned prices.  .... "

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Downsides of Dynamic Pricing

Intriguing abstract and link to full PDF of technical paper:

Opportunistic Returns and Dynamic Pricing: Empirical Evidence from Online Retailing in Emerging Markets  by Chaithanya Bandi, Antonio Moreno, Donald Ngwe, and Zhiji Xu  in HBRWorkingKnowledge.

OVERVIEW — Dynamic pricing is widely applied in industries like airline ticketing, ride-sharing, and online retailing. This paper identifies two downsides of dynamic pricing: opportunistic returns and strategic choice of payment method. The impact can be significant and has implications for managers and researchers.  .... " 

CYC: Logical Reasoning with a Knowledge Base

My recent post prompted me take a a look at the CYC site again, first time in a long time, here is an excerpt as to what they are about.    Further looking to see what the granularity of their knowledge base looks like, and how it can be leveraged to approximate common sense.    Also recalling our interactions, and why it did not work for us,  because common sense depends upon particular context too.   Is that being better considered better now?   Also how is machine learning, mentioned below, integrated into a knowledge bases?   There is still great need for an architecture that links common sense to a particular knowledge domain.

Cyc:  Logical Reasoning with the World's Largest Knowledge Base

Home of Smarter Solutions

The Cyc software combines an unparalleled common sense knowledge base with powerful inference engines and natural language interfaces to deliver human-like understanding and transparent explanations of its output and reasoning.  Cyc applications can stand alone or work in concert with pattern matching AI tools, such as Machine Learning, to deliver truly differentiated value.


Differentiated applications for your enterprise that deliver value only available with Cyc’s vast knowledge base and powerful inference engines.


Develop smarter applications using Cyc’s Knowledge Application Development Environment. The Cyc knowledge base and inference engine are available for commercial application developers with support if necessary.


Cycorp is a leading provider of Artificial Intelligence technologies bringing a new level of common sense reasoning and understanding to a wide variety of software applications.   ..... "

Also about their work with Accenture.

Cell Sized Medical Robotics

Quite an interesting advance.   Includes a video.

How to mass produce cell-sized robots
Technique from MIT could lead to tiny, self-powered devices for environmental, industrial, or medical monitoring.     By David L. Chandler | MIT News Office 
Tiny robots no bigger than a cell could be mass-produced using a new method developed by researchers at MIT. The microscopic devices, which the team calls “syncells” (short for synthetic cells), might eventually be used to monitor conditions inside an oil or gas pipeline, or to search out disease while floating through the bloodstream.

The key to making such tiny devices in large quantities lies in a method the team developed for controlling the natural fracturing process of atomically-thin, brittle materials, directing the fracture lines so that they produce miniscule pockets of a predictable size and shape. Embedded inside these pockets are electronic circuits and materials that can collect, record, and output data.

The novel process, called “autoperforation,” is described in a paper published today in the journal Nature Materials, by MIT Professor Michael Strano, postdoc Pingwei Liu, graduate student Albert Liu, and eight others at MIT. .... " 

Machine Common Sense

Been a challenge for along time. At DARPA and elsewhere.   One of our first challenges during the first AI revolution.     Putting humans in the loop is the easiest current solution, assuming you can leverage the common sense they have.     We engaged briefly with CYC on this, they were working with the US government then, busily encoding all human common sense, where is that now?

DARPA Embraces ‘Common Sense’ Approach to AI  By George Leopold in Datanami

The Pentagon’s top research agency is focusing its considerable AI efforts on the interim stage of machine intelligence between “narrow” and “general” AI.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which announced a multi-year $2 billion “AI Next” “campaign last month, is tightening its focus on teaching machine “common sense” reasoning. That capability remains beyond the reach of current AI constructs, and the research agency said it hopes to launch a “third wave” of AI technology that is adaptable while shedding light on the mystery of how machines learn.

Common sense reasoning is defined as “the basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that are shared by nearly all people and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without need for debate.”

AI experts note the gap between AI inference and the ability to design systems that can draw directly on the rules of inference to achieve common sense reasoning. “Articulating and encoding this obscure-but-pervasive capability is no easy feat,” DARPA program managers note.

The lack of machine common sense is also seen as among the biggest barriers to advancing beyond narrow to general AI applications. The DARPA effort, dubbed “Machine Common Sense,” seeks to move beyond current frameworks that the agency considers “brittle” and lacking in semantic understanding. .... "

In the Edge: Paul Allen Remembered

More on Paul Allen and the connection to the history of personal computing.  The Edge is always interesting. 

Paul Allen Remembered
by Edward H. "Eddie" Currie

It was Microsoft’s phenomenal success, early in the evolution of the microcomputer, that made it possible for Paul to make so many other significant contributions to the world, and that success may well have never occurred without Paul’s ability to deliver on the dream to supply the software for all of the microcomputers in the world, beginning with BASIC, and to do so in the early days of the industry. Those at MITS who knew Paul always referred to him as a brilliant polymath and a true gentleman. His quiet, easy going manner, great sense of humor, love of music, guitars, software in all of its forms, compassion and concern for others, together with a totally committed work ethic served as a great role model at MITS.   ... "

Intent is the New Funnel

I like Think with Google, some interesting thoughts

Go Think with Google
Journeys as unique as each consumer

The formula for driving growth has changed. And predicting intent is now a critical part of the equation.

Predictions and Trends Intent is the New Funnel

If you’re reading this, you’ve most likely spent your career trying to master the funnel, that linear customer journey from awareness to consideration to purchase. Using mass media, the key levers to drive growth were reach and frequency. You used demographics to approximate user intent and inform your targeting and creative.

But this no longer works for today’s consumer journeys, writes Allan Thygesen, President of the Americas at Google, who will be unveiling new research at Advertising Week. We found that no two journeys are exactly alike, and in fact, most journeys don’t resemble a funnel at all. They look like pyramids, diamonds, hourglasses, and more. ... "

Monday, October 22, 2018

ViniMaya Procurement merged with, became Aquiire last year

Was late to report this, but:

ViniMaya merged with and became Aquiire last year:
Still part of Cincinnati located Vora Ventures.

See  https://www.aquiire.com/

Impressive new eprocurement capabilities.

See also my other posts in procurement and eprocurement:

Voice Commerce only Talk?

How much voice driven shopping happens?

Report says voice commerce is all talk   by Matthew Stern in VentureBeat

Shopping via voice assistant has become one of the most discussed trends in the world of retail technology. But recently-released numbers indicate that, at least for now, predictions of the ascendency of Alexa voice commerce could be all talk.

Only about two percent of the 50 million people who own and use Alexa-ready devices have used them to make a purchase in 2018 so far, according to The Information. And of those who did use Alexa to shop, 90 percent did not try it more than once. Far more frequently, voice assistants are being used for simple tasks like playing music and getting weather reports.

Confirmation of a low rate of adoption for voice shopping comes as the two major players in the space, Amazon.com and Google, have been competing to bring retailers and shoppers into their voice shopping ecosystems. .... " 

ID'ing the Retail Customer

Recall this being brought up during some of our retail process analyses.     Do customers want this?

 Stores rarely ID customers before they check out   by Tom Ryan in Retailwire

According to BRP’s “2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey,” only 23 percent of retailers are able to identify customers inside stores before they check out.

Of the 23 percent, 13 percent have ways to identify customers when they walk in and another 10 percent sometime during the pre-checkout stage. Fifty-seven percent can identify customers at checkout. Twenty percent are unable to identify customers at all at the store level.

The findings were based on an online survey of more than 500 North America retailers conducted in March and April. ..... " 

Work Motivation

From HBS Working Knowledge, Covers a number of motivations.

Motivate Me, Please
People are often coin-operated when it comes to work, but managers can bring out their best performance by using other motivators.

Former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy was known to criticize staff for being "coin-operated" instead of mission-driven. Understanding what motivates good performance is crucial for managers to master. Here is a collection of stories from our archive that highlight Harvard Business School research on motivation  ... "

Amazon Houses

Thought it would be coming that assistants would be commonly built into houses. 

Alexa-powered Amazon houses may be closer than you think in Fastcompany.

Home design and prefabrication company Plant Prefab got a cash injection in series A funding from Amazon’s Alexa Fund. You know exactly where this is going. ... '

Transparent Force Touch Sensors

Highly precise sensors means more data which can lead to better decisions.

High-Performance Flexible Transparent Force Touch Sensor for Wearable Devices 

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea have developed a thin, flexible, transparent hierarchical nanocomposite (HNC) film that can be used to create a high-performance, transparent nanoforce touch sensor. The researchers say the sensor features high sensitivity, transparency, bending insensitivity, and manufacturability. The device's sensing electrodes are on the same plane as the neutral plane, which allows the force-touch sensor to operate even when bent to the radius of a ballpoint pen, with no change in performance. Said KAIST's Jae-Young Yoo, "We successfully developed an industrial-grade force touch sensor by using a simple structure and fabrication process. We expect it to be widely used in user touch interfaces and wearable devices." .... '

Technology Stack and the IIOT

Been exploring what works in equipment maintenance in industry applications.

IIoT platforms: The technology stack as value driver in industrial equipment and machinery

Equipment and machinery companies considering a transformation to embrace the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) need to develop a clear perspective to drive impact at scale.  ... " 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Measuring Document and Chart Complexity

Measuring Document Complexity, I assume to provide feedback to the authoring and generation of the same?   Can it also provide direct suggestions as to how they should be updated for differing goals?

New Data Science Method Makes Charts Easier to Read at a Glance   By Columbia University 

Medical doctors reading EEGs in emergency rooms, first responders looking at multiple screens showing live data feeds from sensors in a disaster zone, brokers buying and selling financial instruments all need to make informed decisions very quickly. Visualization complexity can complicate decision-making when one is looking at data on a chart. When timing is critical, it is essential that a chart be easy to read and interpret.

To help decision-makers in scenarios like these, computer scientists at Columbia Engineering and Tufts University have developed a new method—"Pixel Approximate Entropy"—that measures the complexity of a data visualization and can be used to develop easier to read visualizations. Eugene Wu, assistant professor of computer science, and Gabriel Ryan, a Ph.D. student at Columbia, will describe their findings in "At a Glance: Pixel Approximate Entropy as a Measure of Line Chart Complexity," to be presented at the IEEE VIS 2018 conference in Berlin, Germany.  .... "

Can Intelligent Assistants Help us with the Small Print?

We often need help with both the meaning and implications of the small print.

Artificial Intelligence, Ratings, and the Small Print
By Deborah Unger is a senior editor of strategy+business.

People have always balked at reading terms of service — the acres of fine print on the bottom of insurance policies and product agreements and in pop-ups on apps and websites. It’s so much easier and quicker to click “I agree” than to wade through hours of boring legalese. But there are risks. A 2016 academic study found that 98 percent of people signed up for a fictitious free Wi-Fi service, NameDrop, even though clause 2.3.1 of its terms states: “By agreeing to these Terms of Service, and in exchange for service, all users of this site agree to immediately assign their first-born child to NameDrop, Inc.”

In this age of big data, AI, and machine learning, there must be a better way for companies to present — and for consumers to manage — the small print. A sense of urgency to develop such systems is rising. “Data companies have preached the mantra of transparency for their users, but have not applied it to themselves,” explained Alessandro Acquisti, PwC William W. Cooper Professor of Risk and Regulatory Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University, in an email. As a result, “privacy policies do not really fulfill the goal of transparency.”

To address these shortcomings, participants in the open data scene, who have been raising red flags about privacy and data for years, and academics have developed a transparent user-powered review site for the fine print. When I first stumbled across Terms of Service; Didn’t Read (ToS;DR), an initiative started in 2012, I thought I was in an online confessional for guilty “I agreers.” But ToS;DR is far more useful. Its purpose is to do the reading for you — or, rather, to have others do the reading for you — and rate the privacy details in ToS agreements, including those of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and YouTube.

Think of Rotten Tomatoes or Reddit, but for the fine print. ToS;DR assigns thumbs-up or thumbs-down icons based on the aggregate scores of its crowdsourced reviews. It’s especially keen on revealing what a site will do with your data. Each site analysis is summarized with a bulleted list of useful ToS elements, such as “this service tracks you on other websites,” “this service can share your personal information with other parties,” and “this service can delete your account without prior notice and without a reason.”

“Data companies have preached the mantra of transparency for their users, but have not applied it to themselves.”  ..... 

ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

This was brought back to my attention, been reviewing its application to companies.  Have posted earler versions. Notably includes how it should be interpreted in educational and corporate settings.  And how different might it be in other countries?  Like the idea that these rules are not an algorithm, but rather guides for ethical decision making.   With real life examples.   Some aspects of AI are included.   Good job by the ACM organization.

ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct   (About 20 pages) 


Computing professionals' actions change the world. To act responsibly, they should reflect upon the wider impacts of their work, consistently supporting the public good. The ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct ("the Code") expresses the conscience of the profession.

The Code is designed to inspire and guide the ethical conduct of all computing professionals, including current and aspiring practitioners, instructors, students, influencers, and anyone who uses computing technology in an impactful way. Additionally, the Code serves as a basis for remediation when violations occur. The Code includes principles formulated as statements of responsibility, based on the understanding that the public good is always the primary consideration. Each principle is supplemented by guidelines, which provide explanations to assist computing professionals in understanding and applying the principle.

Section 1 outlines fundamental ethical principles that form the basis for the remainder of the Code. Section 2 addresses additional, more specific considerations of professional responsibility. Section 3 guides individuals who have a leadership role, whether in the workplace or in a volunteer professional capacity. Commitment to ethical conduct is required of every ACM member, and principles involving compliance with the Code are given in Section 4.

The Code as a whole is concerned with how fundamental ethical principles apply to a computing professional's conduct. The Code is not an algorithm for solving ethical problems; rather it serves as a basis for ethical decision-making. When thinking through a particular issue, a computing professional may find that multiple principles should be taken into account, and that different principles will have different relevance to the issue. Questions related to these kinds of issues can best be answered by thoughtful consideration of the fundamental ethical principles, understanding that the public good is the paramount consideration. The entire computing profession benefits when the ethical decision-making process is accountable to and transparent to all stakeholders. Open discussions about ethical issues promote this accountability and transparency.  ... "

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Industrial Predictive Maintenance

Part one of three I am following.  Good.  It was, long ago,  a specialty of mine.  Then, as now its all about the data.   Here Data, IOT and ML are brought together to address the  problem.  Parts I and II are available.

A strategy for implementing industrial predictive maintenance: Part I   By Prashant Dhingra   Machine Learning Lead, Advanced Solutions Lab, Google Cloud
October 5, 2018

A recent phenomenon called Industry 4.0 marks an industry-wide shift in manufacturing: factories are becoming smarter. Accordingly, plant operators strive for increased productivity, improved operational efficiency, and better safety, given the technological tools newly available to them. Many manufacturing facilities maintain a combination of both new and old machines. The first step to make a factory smarter is enable predictive maintenance (PdM) capabilities.  

Predictive maintenance focuses on identifying patterns in both sensor and yield data that indicate changes in equipment condition, typically wear and tear on specific equipment. With predictive maintenance capabilities, companies can determine the remaining value of assets and accurately determine when a manufacturing plant, machine, component or part is likely to fail, and thus needs to be replaced.

In this first post in our three part series, we’ll explain how predictive maintenance can function to reduce downtime, reduce maintenance costs and improve operational effectiveness and safety, by identifying impending failures before they occur.  ... " 

Part II is here.

Real Problems with AI

Nicely put.  Precisely its algorithms translated into decisions regarding important processes.   The right decisions.  Unbiased,  but also better, faster, cheaper. 

The Real Problem With AI       By Bertrand Meyer in ACM

Some of the current debates around artificial intelligence (AI) are baffling. I am not sure what philosophers have to contribute, and the fears of  "machines taking over humans" sound like stuff for science-fiction novels or late-night party musings rather than anything that threatens us now. Especially since real threats do exist, more concrete and more scary. And more mundane.

The problem with AI is not the metaphysical risk that machines will deprive us of our free will. The problem with AI is the practical risk that even with our free will we start trusting our decisions to algorithms, and they make the wrong decisions.

Serious discussion is hard because we are often in the domain of magical thinking rather than reason. People seem to understand "AI" as an abracadabra that will miraculously get the right answers. Sorry to disappoint (in fact, not sorry at all -- that is our role): AI is algorithms. Or, to paraphrase a famous saying, "It's algorithms, stupid!", not to be confused with  "it is stupid algorithms." The algorithms can be very smart, but they are still just algorithms conceived and implemented by humans. Like always, the algorithms have limitations, and the implementations often have bugs. Also, they need data, which can be erroneous, too (as anyone knows who has ever used a GPS navigator and been told "turn left" into a closed street or worse). ..... "

Many Worlds

I heard of the 'Many Worlds'  explanation for quantum physics in a college physics course.   And it was clearly explained this it was not necessarily a description of reality, but a way to think about quantum mechanics.  Course by then the science fiction aspects of it has been broadly picked up.  Since quantum mechanics is so counter-intuitive, its easy to latch onto this as an explanation.  But 'Many Worlds' is mysterious in its own way.   Quanta Magazine article covers this:

" .... The idea that the universe splits into multiple realities with every measurement has become an increasingly popular proposed solution to the mysteries of quantum mechanics. But this “many-worlds interpretation” is incoherent, Philip Ball argues in this adapted excerpt from his new book Beyond Weird.

Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation Has Many Problems  .... " 

Stroke Treatment by AI and Blockchain

An example of the integration of two technologies in health care.

From HPE:

Creating better stroke treatment using AI and blockchain technology

Every year, 10,000 people die due to a stroke in the Netherlands alone. AI and blockchain are part of the innovative technologies being used to improve the outcome.... " 

Universal Archive of Source Code?

Makes sense,  to have this.  I recall the same idea was experimented with during the early days of object oriented systems.

Building the Universal Archive of Source Code
By Jean-François Abramatic, Roberto Di Cosmo, Stefano Zacchiroli 
Communications of the ACM, September 2018, Vol. 61 No. 10, Pages 29-3110.1145/3183558

We clearly need a universal archive of software source code.

The deep penetration of software in all aspects of our world brings along failures and risks whose potential impact is growing. Users now understand the need for an organized attention to software safety, security, reliability, and traceability. But unlike other scientific fields, we lack large-scale research instruments for enabling massive analysis of all the available software source code.

As computer scientists and professionals, it is our duty, responsibility, and privilege to build a shared infrastructure that answers these needs. Not just for our community, not just for the technical and scientific community, but for society as a whole.

Software Heritage is an initiative launched at Inria—the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation—precisely to take up this mission. While a full article detailing our approach is available online,2 we focus here on the challenges raised by the three main goals: collecting, preserving, and sharing the source code of all the software ever written. .... "

More on Software Heritage.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Alexa on the Facebook Portal

I had initially missed this.  Don't like Facebook being involved, but according to below the information from Alexa transcripts are not shared with Facebook.  Short excerpt below,   read the rest for other aspects of the Facebook use of data.

Here in Adage:

Amazon connection ... 

" ... Amazon's voice-assistant Alexa is also on Portal and it works much like it does on Amazon's own in-home gadgets. People can sign into their Amazon accounts and add products to their shopping lists or control smart home devices by asking Alexa. Facebook does not get to capture what people are doing through Alexa: those voice commands are kept on record through Amazon, not Facebook.

"When you say the wake word, 'Alexa,' you're connected directly to Alexa," an Amazon spokesman said by email. "Voice recordings are sent directly to Amazon, and you can review and delete these voice recordings in the Alexa app."

Amazon and third-party developers like Spotify can collect the same data from signed-in consumers through Portal that they would from any device. All that information they soak up does go into their own advertising and marketing on Facebook and beyond online.  ... " 

Advertising on the Facebook Portal

A look at the ads and data involved with Facebook's new Portal.  Good overview as to what Facebook may want from this new channel.

Here's what Facebook's Portal Can and Cannot do with Data   By Garett Sloane  in Adage

When Facebook introduced an in-home video calling device with camera and microphone this month, the company wanted to avoid any confusion about the type of data it could sweep up. The last thing Facebook needed was to raise more privacy alarms about its business, so the marketing around Portal, a voice-activated media hub for the home, highlighted clear safeguards and an upfront "no ads" policy.

But it turned out the company's messaging was less than clear.

As a report in Recode this week noted, "It turns out that Facebook could in fact use data collected from its Portal in-home video device to target you with ads." A Facebook representative had initially told Recode that no data from Portal would be used to target ads. But the device does pick up routine information like who a person calls and when, which is the type of data Facebook does use to target ads on its other properties, just not on Portal.   .... " 

Making Systems Aware of Context

Awareness, also known as context, is often an important aspect of intelligence.

Two Systems Allow Smart Devices to Have Environmental Awareness
in Electronics360    By Siobhan Treacy

Two teams of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed two new systems that give smart devices environmental awareness by analyzing either sound or vibrations to register their surroundings. The Ubicoustics system uses the microphones in smart devices to register and classify environmental sounds, having been trained on sound-effect archives used by the entertainment industry. Says CMU's Gierad Laput, "We can transform and project [these sound libraries] into hundreds of different variations, creating volumes of data perfect for training deep learning models." The other system, Vibrosight, classifies sounds by detecting vibrations via an integrated sensor, laser, and motorized steerable mirror. Ubicoustics and Vibrosight were both presented this week at the ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST2018) in Berlin. .... " 

US Shoppers Open to Amazon Go

Not unsurprising, providing the interaction is error-free.

Amazon Go seen as welcome grocery option

But not all Americans would embrace cashier-free retail concept, survey says
By Russell Redman in SupermarketNews

Though Amazon.com Inc. is just getting under way with its Amazon Go stores, a new study finds that U.S. grocery shoppers are open to the cashierless retail concept.

Nearly 75% of 1,000 U.S. consumers polled by marketing firm Digital Third Coast for Schorr Packaging Corp. said they would be “extremely likely” or “very likely” to shop at an Amazon Go store if one opened nearby. What’s more, 84% of respondents indicated they would enjoy the Amazon Go customer experience more than conventional grocery shopping. ... " 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Automated Smart Homes

New directions in smart homes ...

A Step Toward Personalized, Automated Smart Homes
by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office

Developing automated systems that track occupants and self-adapt to their preferences is a major next step for the future of smart homes. When you walk into a room, for instance, a system could set to your preferred temperature. Or when you sit on the couch, a system could instantly flick the television to your favorite channel.

But enabling a home system to recognize occupants as they move around the house is a more complex problem. Recently, systems have been built that localize humans by measuring the reflections of wireless signals off their bodies. But these systems can’t identify the individuals. Other systems can identify people, but only if they’re always carrying their mobile devices. Both systems also rely on tracking signals that could .... "

Siemens and Artificial Intelligence

Been taking a closer look at what German industrial conglomerate Siemens is doing and thinking in the space of AI.  Good section on their thoughts, approaches and direction.   Also about replacing jobs and people.

The Brain Behind: Artificial Intelligence

Innovations at Siemens
“Software can be very intelligent. But it cannot replace people.”

Rolf-Dieter Heuer is confident that clever machines can help us  –  in research, industry and daily life. In an interview, the former director general of CERN and long-standing president of the German Physics Association (DPG) explains why we will still need intelligent people as well. ... "

See also Siemens.com.  And the Wikipedia outlines its history.

I also recently wrote about Siemens doing process mining and modeling, a particular interest of mine.